Catholic University of America

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The Catholic University of America
Logo of The Catholic University of America.svg
Motto Deus Lux Mea Est (Latin)
Motto in English
"God Is My Light"
Established April 10, 1887
Type Private
Affiliation Roman Catholic
Endowment $301 million[1]
Chancellor Donald Wuerl
President John H. Garvey
Provost Andrew Abela
Academic staff
Students 6,725 (2014)[3]
Undergraduates 3,713 (2014)[3]
Postgraduates 3,012 (2014)[3]
Location Washington, D.C., United States
Campus Urban; 193 acres (78 ha)
Colors Gold and white
Red and black
Athletics NCAA Division IIILandmark Conference, ODAC (football)
Sports 21 varsity teams
Nickname Cardinals
Mascot Cardinal
Affiliations ACCU
NDEA (International affiliate)

The Catholic University of America (CUA) is a private university located in Washington, D.C. in the United States. It is a pontifical university of the Catholic Church in the United States and the only institution of higher education founded by the U.S. Catholic bishops.[7] Established in 1887 as a graduate and research center following approval by Pope Leo XIII on Easter Sunday,[8] the university began offering undergraduate education in 1904. The university's campus lies within the Brookland neighborhood, known as "Little Rome", which contains 60 Catholic institutions, including Trinity Washington University and the Dominican House of Studies.

It has been ranked as one of the nation's best colleges by the Princeton Review,[9] one of the best values of any private school in the country by Kiplinger's,[10] "one of the most eco-friendly universities in the country,"[11] and was awarded the "highest federal recognition an institution can receive" for community service.[12] In addition, it was ranked in the top 10 of the best Catholic colleges in the country,[13] and has been recommended by the Cardinal Newman Society in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College.[9] It was described as one of the 25 most underrated colleges in the United States.[14][15]

CUA's programs emphasize the liberal arts, professional education, and personal development. The school stays closely connected with the Catholic Church and Catholic organizations. The American Cardinals Dinner is put on by the residential U.S. cardinals each year to raise scholarship funds for CUA. The university has a long history of working with the Knights of Columbus; the university's law school and basilica have dedications to the involvement and support of the Knights.

The university has been visited three times by sitting popes. Pope John Paul II visited on October 7, 1979.[16] On April 16, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI gave an address at the campus about Catholic education and academic freedom.[17][18] Pope Francis visited on September 23, 2015 during his trip to the United States, where he celebrated Mass on the east portico of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.[19]



Pope Leo XIII granted the charter to The Catholic University of America
U.S. President Grover Cleveland helped lay the cornerstone

At the Second Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1866, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops first discussed the need for a national Catholic university. At the Third Plenary Council on January 26, 1885, bishops chose the name The Catholic University of America for the institution.[20]

In 1882 Bishop John Lancaster Spalding went to Rome to obtain Pope Leo XIII's support for the university, also persuading his family friend Mary Gwendoline Caldwell to pledge $300,000 to establish it. On April 10, 1887 Pope Leo XIII sent James Cardinal Gibbons a letter granting permission to establish the university.[20] On March 7, 1889 the Pope issued the encyclical Magni Nobis,[21] granting the university its charter and establishing its mission as the instruction of Catholicism and human nature together at the graduate level. By developing new leaders and new knowledge, the University was intended to strengthen and enrich Catholicism in the United States.[22]

The founders wished to emphasize the Church's special role in United States. They believed that scientific and humanistic research, informed by faith, would strengthen the Church. They wanted to develop a national institution that would promote the faith in a context of religious freedom, spiritual pluralism, and intellectual rigor. The university was incorporated in 1887 on 66 acres (27 ha) of land next to the Old Soldiers Home.[20] President Grover Cleveland was in attendance for the laying of the cornerstone of Divinity Hall, now known as Caldwell Hall, on May 24, 1888, as were members of Congress and the U.S. Cabinet.


File:Airplane View of Catholic University.jpg
An aerial view of campus in 1920.

When the University first opened for classes on November 13, 1889, the curriculum consisted of lectures in mental and moral philosophy, English literature, the Sacred Scriptures, and the various branches of theology. At the end of the second term, lectures on canon law were added. The first students were graduated in 1889.[20]

In 1876 with the opening of the Johns Hopkins University, American universities began dedicating themselves to graduate study and research in the Prussian model.[20] CUA was the "principal channel through which the modern university movement entered the American Catholic community." In 1900 it was one of the 14 colleges that offered doctorate programs who formed the Association of American Universities.[20]

In 1904, the university added an undergraduate program, establishing a reputation for excellence. The president of the first undergraduate class was Frank Kuntz, whose memoir of that period was published by the University press. The University gives an annual award named for Kuntz.[23]

Despite Washington's being a Southern and segregated city when the University was founded, it admitted black Catholic men as students.[24] At the time, the only other college in the District to do so was Howard University, founded for African-American education after the Civil War.[24] In 1895 Catholic University had three black students, all from DC. "They were simply tested as to their previous education, and this being found satisfactory, no notice whatever was taken of their color. They stand on exactly the same footing as other students of equal intellectual calibre and acquirements," according to Keane[disambiguation needed].[24] Conaty,[specify] speaking to President William McKinley during a visit on June 1, 1900, said that the University, "like the Catholic Church... knows no race line and no color line."[24]

President Theodore Roosevelt was out on a morning horseback ride one Sunday morning when he came upon a group of students singing after Mass outside Caldwell Chapel. He had heard of the statute of Pope Leo XIII in McMahon Hall from his friend Maurice Francis Egan, an English professor, and asked to see it.[25]

A victory parade for the 1936 Orange Bowl Champions went up Pennsylvania Avenue on its circular route from Union Station to campus. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, "on his way to church, became an unwitting parader, when the march de triumph jammed traffic in front of the White House."[26][27]

Recent history

The presence of CUA attracted other Catholic institutions to the area, including colleges, religious orders, and national service organizations. Between 1900 and 1940, more than 50 international Catholic institutions rented or owned property in neighboring Brookland. During the post-World War II years, Catholic University had a dramatic expansion in enrollment, thanks to veterans making use of the G.I. Bill to complete college educations.

In the early 21st century, the university has over 6,000 students from all 50 states and around the world. It is the only American university to have been visited by two popes and is one of only two universities to have any visits by a pontiff.[20]

Knights of Columbus

The Knights of Columbus and The Catholic University of America have a history of "a close and supportive relationship" that dates almost to the founding of the university.[28][29]

Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson serves on the Board of CUA's Trustees. Bishop William E. Lori is both the Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus and former Chairman of the Board of Trustees at CUA.

Early years

In 1899 the National Council of the K of C established a Knights of Columbus Chair of American History at the University, to counter the somewhat anti-Catholic bias of history-writing at the time.[28] The convention accepted the proposal. More than 10,000 Knights were on hand on April 13, 1904 to present a $55,633.79 check[30] ($1,399,831.80 in 2012 dollars[31]) to endow the Chair.[28]

In December 1904 Cardinal Gibbons appealed to the Knights for more financial aid to help meet operating costs after some investments went sour. The Order gave nearly $25,000.[30] By 1907 the financial situation of Catholic University had improved but was still shaky. Archbishop John J. Glennon of St. Louis, chairman of a committee to plan for a $500,000 endowment, appealed to the Knights; the committee believed the Order was the only organization which could do it. Every Knight was asked to contribute $1 a year for a five-year period. In December 1913, the goal was realized.[28]

At Cardinal Gibbons' residence in Baltimore on January 6, 1914, a party headed by Supreme Knight James A. Flaherty presented $500,000 in securities, the results of the fund drive.[30]

Columbus School of Law

In 1954, Columbus University merged with the law program of CUA to become The Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America,[28] after the American Bar Association in 1951 challenged law schools not affiliated with a university. The CUA law school was the first professional school of the University.


In 1920 the Order contributed $60,000 toward the Catholic University gymnasium and drill hall, which later was adapted for use as the Crough Building housing the School of Architecture. The Knights of Columbus are listed among the seven donors of "Leadership Gifts" of $500,000 or more; and a plaque in the courtyard recognizes the contribution of the Knights.[28]

In 2006, the Knights announced an $8,000,000 gift to the university to renovate Keane Hall and rename it as McGivney Hall, after the Knights' founder, Michael J. McGivney.[28][32] The building, which was vacant, now houses the Washington session of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family.[30] In 2008 McGivney was designated as "Venerable" by the pope, part of a multi-year effort in his cause for canonization.

Recent history

A $1,000,000 trust was established in August 1965 to fund the Pro Deo and Pro Patria Scholarship, providing twelve undergraduate scholarships annually to the University.[33]

The North American Campus of the Pope John Paul II Institute on Marriage and the Family, funded by the Knights and established at the Dominican House of Studies adjacent to the CUA campus, opened its first academic year on September 8, 1988.[34] In 1989 the Knights voted a $2,000,000 birthday gift to the U.S. bishops on their bicentennial, to be given to Catholic University and used to fund special projects jointly chosen by the University and the Knights.[28][30] Proceeds from this fund helped to finance the construction of the Columbus School of Law building.[30]


The CUA campus is in the residential community of Brookland in Northeast Washington; its main entrance is 620 Michigan Ave., NE. The campus is bound by Michigan Avenue to the south, North Capitol Street to the west, Hawaii Avenue to the north, and John McCormick Road to the east. It is three miles (5 km) north of the Capitol building.

File:CUA Mall.jpg
Pryzbyla Plaza, with the National Shrine in the background.

The tree-lined campus is 193 acres (78 ha). Romanesque and modern design dominate among the university's 55 major buildings. Between McMahon and Gibbons halls and alongside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception runs The Mall, a large strip of grass that is often the site of Ultimate Frisbee games and sunbathers. Conte Circle is in the middle of Centennial Village, a cluster of eight residential houses.

The Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center was opened in the spring of 2003, bringing student dining services, the campus bookstore, student organization offices, an 800-person ballroom, a convenience store, and more student services under one roof. The John K. Mullen Library completed a $6,000,000 renovation in 2004, significantly improving the lighting and aesthetics of the interior and allowing the classical architecture to better shine through.

The Columbus School of Law is on the main campus and is self-contained in its own building with moot courtrooms, a library, chapel, classrooms, and offices. On the Pryzbyla Center side of the building is the Law School Lawn, where the ultimate Frisbee team can often be found. Theological College, the United States' national seminary, is located across Michigan Avenue from the main campus and sits between the Dominican House of Studies, a seminary for the Order of Preachers, and offices for the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Trinity Washington University is also near the university and is a quarter mile south along Michigan Avenue.

McGivney Hall

In April 2004, the University purchased 49 acres (20 ha) of land from the Armed Forces Retirement Home. The parcel is the largest plot of open space in the District and makes CUA the largest university in D.C. by land area. There are currently no plans for the parcel other than to secure the property for future growth.

In 2007, the University unveiled plans to expand the campus by adding three new dormitories to the north side of campus.[35][36] The first of these, the seven-story Opus Hall, was completed in 2009 in the University's traditional Collegiate Gothic style. It houses 420 upper-class students and is the first LEED Certified dormitory in Washington DC. Opus hall is the first residential community to house both male and female students since the 2007 adoption of a single-sex dormitory policy.[37]

The University had previously demolished Conaty and Spellman dormitories, which allowed for development of Monroe Street by Bozzuto contracting. In Partnership with the university, "Monroe Street Market" and the "Brookland Arts Walk" opened in 2014. A New CUA Barnes & Nobel Bookstore opened on Monroe. New apartments in the development allow older students the opportunity to reside at an off-campus location within walking distance of the University.

The Campus is served by the Brookland-CUA station on the Red Line of the Washington Metro. Union Station, Capitol Hill, and the Smithsonian museums are only a few minutes' ride away. Near campus are the offices of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land.

In 2015 the Catholic University of America began an partnership with the Australian Catholic University to effectively own and operate a second Campus in Rome, Italy.

Green initiatives and sustainability

CUA has environmental sustainability programs, including participation in Earth Day, Casey Trees tree planting, and Campus Beautification Day. CUA constructed its most recent building, Opus Hall, as LEED-compliant, and purchases 30% of its electricity from green sources.[38] The university is participating in the 2010 College Sustainability Report Card rating.[38][39][40]

In 2009, the School of Architecture and Planning introduced a Master of Science in Sustainable Design degree.[38]

Student life

File:GibbonsHall 07120029.jpg
Gibbons Hall (built in 1911), a residence hall

There are over 100 registered student clubs and organizations at CUA for a wide variety of interests including athletics, academics, social, Greek life, service, political and religious.

Annual events include week-long Homecoming celebrations, the Mr. CUA competition, and a number of dances including the Beaux Arts Ball, the Mistletoe Ball, and the Athletes Ball. In addition to the radio station WCUA, other campus media outlets include The Crosier, a scholarly publication concerning Catholic social teaching, The Tower, the campus' independent weekly newspaper, and CRUX, a literary magazine.

Although the Catholic University states that it does not have any Greek life on campus, it in fact has two Greek social organizations and one Greek service organization. Catholic University Greek life includes Alpha Delta Gamma the national Catholic social fraternity–Kappa chapter and Kappa Tau Gamma the local Christian social-service sorority. Alpha Phi Omega the national service fraternity–Zeta Mu chapter which is co-ed. Former Phi Kappa Theta DC Omega chapter is inactive.

The CUA Student Association is the university's undergraduate student government. It includes the General Assembly, an advocacy body, and the Student Fee Allocation Board which serves as the steward of the Student Activity and Club Sports Fee. The graduate student government is a separate entity and was not affected by the changes during the 2006-2007 academic year.

The university's Program Board, which puts on many of the concerts on campus as well as the annual Mistletoe Ball, provides other activities for the entire CUA community. Previous events include ski trips, advance screenings of movies, Noise In The Pryz, and the Movies on the Mall.

The Crosier, a student-run journal of pro-life academic articles, was named "Best Journal of Letters" by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute in 2014.[41]

Music and drama

The music and drama programs, as part of a class, stage productions each semester, performances ranging from Broadway productions to plays and operas. Catholic University students also participate in is a Symphony orchestra and choral groups, including a cappella groups Take Note and RedLine.[42]

There have been a number of songs associated with the university over the years.[43] The most recent fight song, written by Steve Schatz, was adopted in 2002. The original fight song, "The Flying Cardinals", dates back to before the 1930s.[44] There are two alma maters, considered to be the University's official songs. The first, "Hail CUA" was set to music composed by Victor Herbert and was adopted in 1920.[44] The other, Guardians of Truth by Fr. Thomas McLean, actually came in 2nd place in the 1920 competition but was widely adopted in the ensuing years.[44]

Albert Von Tilzer, composer of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game", wrote two songs for the university, "We're Rooting For You," and "CU Will Shine Tonight." The earliest sports song, "Through the Town," dates from 1916.[43] Drink a Highball was a popular song during Prohibition. In honor of the University's 125th anniversary, an hour-long nostalgic musical revue was performed.[45]

The DuFour Athletic Center has hosted The Alarm, The Fixx, Black 47, Gavin DeGraw, Brandi Carlile, The Hooters, They Might Be Giants, Howie Day, and The Ataris. Comedy acts include Ben Stein and Big Al Goodwin.

Campus ministry and religious life

While the university welcomes students of all faiths, 84% of undergraduates and 59% of graduate students self-identify as Catholic. The campus ministry has two groups of student ministers: the "resident ministers" who live in residence halls and focus primarily on upperclassmen and the "house members," who focus on freshmen.

The Friday Night Planning Committee works with the house members to plan activities for Friday nights that are alcohol free. Campus ministry also coordinates university liturgies, plans and runs retreats, provides faith formation including R.C.I.A., and operates the online Prayernet.

Knights of Columbus

The University has an active council of the Knights of Columbus on campus, with about 350 members.[46] In 2013 they brought in more new members, 57, than any other college council, as well as more new insurance members with 11.[47] In 2011 they won the Council Activity Award for their OverKnight program, a retreat that immediately follows an initiation ceremony.[48] In 2014, they were given the Outstanding College Council Award.

While studying for his Doctor of Canon Law, Fr. Juan-Diego Brunetta, O,P. joined the Order and became the Council's chaplain. He later went on to become the head of the Catholic Information Service at the Knights' Supreme Headquarters in New Haven, Connecticut.


The University is the birthplace of the College Council program in the Knights of Columbus. On June 5, 1898 Keane Council #353, was instituted with 66 charter members, and Lawrence O. Murray, Comptroller of the Currency, as Grand Knight.[28] It "formed its nucleus in the Catholic University," in the words of Philip Garrigan, one of Keane's founders and vice-rector of the University. It was named for Irish-born Bishop John J. Keane, first rector of the University (1889–1896). The first meetings were held in the Typographical Temple, they then move to Grand Army Hall on October 12, 1898, and then to the Maccabee Temple the following June. The association with the University diminished over time.

Anthony Scullen, dean of the School of Engineering and Architecture, served as the third Grand Knight of Washington Council from 1927-29. He reorganized the Knights of Columbus Club on campus, and there are a large number of applications from the students.

The Immaculate Conception Shrine Council No. 4944 was organized on the campus and charted on March 24, 1960 with a membership consisting of faculty, alumni, and others related to the University. Keane Council had for over sixty years been meeting at the downtown K. of C. Hall. Shrine Council, however, met on campus for over a dozen years, and then in a succession of seven different locations all in the Brookland. Over time any other relationship with the University or its people declined to one of merely having a few alumni among its members.

The Catholic University of America Council #9542 was chartered on April 13, 1987 as the District's second college council (after the Georgetown University Council, which was deactivated at the time). Following Keane and Shrine councils, it is the third council to be founded in connection with the University, and became one of four councils meeting in the Brookland area. The institution initiation was on April 14, but the Supreme office backdated the charter one day to coincide with the anniversary of the 1904 check presentation to the University.

Over the years the council would win a number of awards and honors. It was the recipient of the Outstanding College Council award in 1994, and 2014.[49] Many members, over the years, would go on to serve on the College Council Conference Coordinating Committee.

125th Anniversary service challenge

In honor of the University's 125th anniversary, students, staff, faculty, and alumni were challenged to complete 125,000 hours of community service between May 15, 2011 and Founders Day, April 10, 2012. On Founders Day co-chairmen of the 125th Anniversary Committee Randall Ott, dean of architecture and planning, and Bart Pollock, web content editor, announced that a total of 352,627 hours were recorded, nearly tripling the original goal.[50]

The 125,000 hour mark was surpassed on January 24.[50] The total number of student hours passed 125,000 hours in mid-March, and by the end of the month 125,000 hours had been served within Washington, D.C.[50] Three campus organizations, the Bachelor of Arts Social Service Organization (1,090 hours), the women's group, Gratia Plena (1,469 hours), and the men's fraternal organization, Knights of Columbus (2,609 hours), were singled out for their contributions.[46][51]

Students from the National Catholic School of Social Service performed the greatest number of hours, at 108,641, while students from the School of Arts and Sciences had the most students participate at 891.[51] The Class of 2011 led alumni with 7,489 hours, and all alumni contributed 60,828 hours.[51]


The Catholic University of America's intercollegiate sports teams are called the Cardinals and they compete in the NCAA's Division III. They are primarily members of the Landmark Conference, and associate members of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (in football, until July 1, 2017, when the football team will join the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference). The team colors are red (PMS 1805) and black The first recorded football game was played against Mount Saint Mary's College on November 28, 1895 but records indicate earlier track and field events.

The University beat the University of Mississippi at the second Orange Bowl in 1936, 20-19.[52] They also tied the Arizona State Teachers College at Tempe in the 1940 Sun Bowl.

CUA sponsors 21 NCAA Division III sports teams. The school competes in football in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, in men's baseball, women's softball, volleyball and field hockey, and in men's and women's cross country, soccer, basketball, swimming, lacrosse, tennis, and indoor and outdoor track and field, in the Landmark Conference.

Club sports

Students field club teams in sports including cheerleading, ice hockey, rugby, dance, and rowing.


University rankings
Forbes[54] 206
U.S. News & World Report[55] 116
Washington Monthly[56] 267
QS[58] NR
Times[59] NR

Catholic University has 12 schools:[60][61]

in addition to 21 research centers and facilities.

In Fall 2013, the School of Library and Information Science became a department of the School of Arts and Sciences, giving the University its present composition.

The 12 schools offer Doctor of Philosophy degrees (or appropriate professional degrees) in 66 programs and Master's Degrees in 103 programs.[2] Undergraduate degrees are awarded in 72 programs by six schools: architecture and planning, arts and sciences, engineering, music, nursing and philosophy.[2]

Undergraduates combine a liberal arts curriculum in arts and sciences with courses in a major field of study. The Metropolitan School provides programs for adults who wish to earn baccalaureate degrees or participate in continuing education and certificate programs on a part-time basis. 88% of undergraduates and 61% of graduate students are Catholic.[62]

Catholic University is the only U.S. university with an ecclesiastical faculty of Canon law and is one of the few U.S. universities with ecclesiastical faculties of philosophy and sacred theology. Theological College, the university seminary, prepares men for the priesthood. The School of Theology and Religious Studies is a member of the Washington Theological Consortium.[63]

Ninety-eight percent of full-time faculty have doctoral or terminal degrees and 68% teach undergraduates.[2] Of the full-time faculty, 59% are Catholic.

CUA was one of the fourteen founding members of the Association of American Universities, although it withdrew its membership in 2002, citing a conflict with its mission.[64]

Research centers and facilities

Over time, several national Catholic scholarly associations became based at the university, including the Catholic Biblical Association of America, publisher of the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, and (for many years) the American Catholic Philosophical Association. The university is also home to the Catholic University of America Press.

Research institutes located here include:


In addition, the university offers facilities at John K. Mullen of Denver Memorial Library, the American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives, as well as separate libraries on the campus for Architecture and Planning, Biology, Music, Nursing, and Physics.[65] A special autonomous library, the Oliveira Lima Library (sometimes referred to as the Ibero American Library) houses one of the largest collections, outside of Brazil, of rare books on history and literature of Portuguese Brazilian culture.[66]

Academic freedom

File:Marist Hall CUA.JPG
Marist Hall (1899)

Although the University continues to be under censure by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) for academic freedom violations and continues to ban certain speakers from campus, CUA has made a general statement of policy that the academic freedom of its faculty and students will be respected.[67] It considers academic freedom a "fundamental condition for research and dissemination of information."[67] The policy sets forth its respect for the right and responsibility of its faculty and students to (i) conduct research, (ii) publish their findings, and (iii) discuss ideas according to the principles, sources and methods of their academic disciplines.[67] The University further "sanctions" the investigation of "unexplored phenomena, advancement of knowledge, and critical examination of ideas, old and new" and "accepts the responsibility of protecting both teacher and student from being forced to deny truth that has been discovered or to assert claims that have not been established in the discipline."[67]

However, the University specifically provides that "theologians" in the University are "expected to give assent to the teachings of the magisterium in keeping with the various degrees of assent that are called for by authoritative teaching."[67] It should be noted that The Catholic University of America does not offer general studies in theology. Instead it offers doctorates in historical theology and systematic theology, the latter of which "undertakes the task of a comprehensive and synthetic understanding of the Christian faith as mediated through the Scriptures and the Catholic Tradition and as interpreted by the conciliar and papal magisterium."[68] In addition, it offers ecclesiastical degrees (i.e., licenses to teach Catholic Theology) in Liturgical Studies and Sacramental Theology, Moral Theology/Ethics, and Historical and Systematic Theology.[69] In order to teach theology at The Catholic University of America, one must be licensed to teach Catholic Theology by the Vatican.

American Association of University Professors censure (the Curran case)

In 1967, tenured professor Reverend Charles E. Curran was fired for his views on birth control, but was reinstated after a five-day faculty-led strike.[70] In 1986, the Vatican declared that Curran could no longer teach theology at Catholic University because "clashes with church authorities finally culminated in a decision by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by then-Cardinal (and future Pope) Josef Ratzinger, that Curran was neither suitable nor eligible to be a professor of Catholic theology."[71] The areas of dispute included publishing articles that debated theological and ethical views regarding divorce, artificial contraception, masturbation, pre-marital intercourse, and homosexual acts.[72] As noted in the American Association of University Professors report, "Had it not been for the intervention of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Professor Curran would undoubtedly still be active in the university's Department of Theology, a popular teacher, honored theologian, and respected colleague."[72] Curran's attorneys argued that CUA did not follow proper procedures or its own policy statements in handling the case. In response, CUA claimed that the Vatican's actions against Curran trumped any campus-based policy or tenure rules. In 1989, he filed suit against Catholic University, and the court determined that the University had the right to fire him for teaching views in contradiction to the school's religion.[73]

In 1990, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) defended Curran and censured Catholic University due to its failure to adhere to the AAUP's Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, and that it found that "unsatisfactory conditions of academic freedom and tenure have been found to prevail" at The Catholic University of America. As of July 2009, the Catholic University remains on the list of censured institutions.[74] The two conditions for having the censure removed are inviting Curran, whose license to teach Catholic Theology had been suspended by the Vatican, back to campus and changing the University's "Statement on Academic Freedom."[75] President David M. O'Connell refused to do either stating, "Every American university has a right to govern itself according to its own identity, mission, standards, and procedures."[75]

However, the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools continues to accredit CUA and renewed the accreditation in 2005.[76][77]

Speaker policy

Pope Benedict XVI about to address the crowd in 2008

The University as a policy does not allow outside guests to speak on campus to any audience if they have previously expressed an opinion on abortion or other serious issues conflicting with the Catholic Church's teaching. Applying this policy in 2004, CUA was criticized for rescinding Stanley Tucci's invitation for a seminar about Italian cinema, because he had lent past support for Planned Parenthood.[78]

In a letter to the campus that next month, university President David O'Connell wrote:

I consider any pro-choice advocacy — whether deliberate or accidental, whether presented under the guise of academic freedom or right to free speech — as incompatible with that fidelity and not worthy of The Catholic University of America.[79]

The next year, in 2005, the school was criticized for initially rejecting an application for recognition of a student chapter of the NAACP; one of the reasons officials cited in its rejection was the national organization's pro-choice stance.[80] In 2006 the CUA administration barred a student-run on-campus performance of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues.

In 2009, the school made its speaker policy more stringent, prohibiting all candidates for political office from speaking on campus. Representatives of both Democratic and Republican clubs on campus have criticized the decision.[81]

Notable alumni and faculty

There are many notable alumni of The Catholic University of America, particularly in the arts, in the Church and in public service. Graduates include cardinals, bishops, priests and nuns. CUA's Current total of Alumni exceeds 83,000, including 12 living cardinals.[82]

Members of the United States House of Representatives and Senate, ambassadors, governors, state legislators, mayors, and judges have also attended CUA. Additionally, many notable actors, playwrights, columnists, and social activists are alumni in addition to film, theatrical and television producers. Others include CEOs, scholars and university presidents.

In 1942, Catholic University became the first university to award a doctorate in geology to an African American, Marguerite Williams.[83][84]

University rectors and presidents

  1. Bishop John J. Keane (1887–1896)
  2. Bishop Thomas J. Conaty (1896–1903)
  3. Bishop Denis J. O'Connell (1903–1909)
  4. Bishop Thomas J. Shahan (1909–1927)
  5. Bishop James Hugh Ryan (1928–1935)
  6. Bishop Joseph M. Corrigan (1936–1942)
  7. Bishop Patrick J. McCormick (1943–1953)
  8. Bishop Bryan J. McEntegart (1953–1957)
  9. Bishop William J. McDonald (1957–1967, last Rector)
  10. Clarence C. Walton, Ph.D. (1969–1978, first President)
  11. Edmund D. Pellegrino, M.D. (1978–1982)
  12. Rev. William J. Byron, S.J. (1982–1992)
  13. Brother Patrick Ellis, F.S.C. (1992–1998)
  14. Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., J.C.D. (1998–2010)[85]
  15. John H. Garvey, J.D. (2010–present)[86]

Board of trustees

CUA was founded by the nation's bishops, and they continue to have a presence on the Board of Trustees. There are 48 elected members, and the bylaws stipulate that 24 must be clerics, 18 of which must be members of the bishops conference.[20] Of the 51 total trustees (including the University president), 24 are bishops (including eight cardinals). In addition, there are one religious sister and two priests.


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